Key Points

As sea trade paths became more dangerous, numerous tribes developed the Arabian city that Mecca into a center of trade to direct more secure overland caravan routes.Once a year, the nomadic people would explain a truce and converge top top Mecca in a trip to salary homage to your idols in ~ the Kaaba and drink from the Zamzam Well.The oasis city that Yathrib, likewise known as Medina, was ruled by numerous Jewish people until Arab tribes acquired political power approximately 400 CE.

You are watching: What cities were important to trade on the arabian peninsula



A figure in the Hebrew Bible and the Qur’an, and also Abraham’s first son follow to Jews, Christians, and Muslims. He to be born the Abraham’s marriage to Sarah’s handmaiden Hagar.


A sacred building in the city the Mecca that housed the tribal idols until the climb of Islam in 7th century, as soon as it became the facility of Islam’s most sacred mosque.

Zamzam Well

A well situated in the city of Mecca that, according to Islamic belief, is a miraculously generated source of water native God.

Although the bulk of pre-Islamic Arabia was nomadic, there to be several vital cities the came into being as centers that trade and also religion, such as Mecca, Medina (Yathrib), Karbala, and also Damascus. The most important of these urban was Mecca, i m sorry was vital center of trade in the area, and also the place of the Kaaba (or Ka’ba), among the many revered shrines in multi-purpose Arabia. After ~ the climb of Islam, the Kaaba came to be the many sacred location in Islam.

Islamic tradition features the beginning of Mecca to Ishmael’s descendants. Countless Muslims suggest to the Old testimony chapter Psalm 84:3–6 and a cite of a expedition at the valley of Baca, i beg your pardon is construed as a referral to Mecca together Bakkah in Qur’an Surah 3:96. The Greek chronicler Diodorus Siculus, who lived in between 60 BCE and 30 BCE, wrote about the isolated region of Arabia in his occupational Bibliotheca historica, describing a divine shrine that Muslims check out as Kaaba at Mecca: “And a temple has actually been collection up there, which is really holy and also exceedingly revered by all Arabians.” some time in the 5th century, the Kaaba was a ar to prayer the deities of Arabia’s pagan tribes. Mecca’s most essential pagan divine being was Hubal, whose idol had actually been placed there by the judgment Quraysh tribe and also remained until the 7th century.

The City of Mecca

In the fifth century, the Quraysh people took control of Mecca and also became expert merchants and traders. In the sixth century, they join the financially rewarding spice trade, since battles in other parts the the people were bring about traders to draw away from the danger sea routes to the more secure overland routes. The byzantine Empire had actually previously regulated the Red Sea, but piracy had actually been increasing. An additional previous route, which ran v the Persian Gulf via the Tigris and also Euphrates rivers, was additionally threatened through exploitations from the Sassanid Empire, and also disrupted through the Lakhmids, the Ghassanids, and also the Roman–Persian Wars.

Mecca’s prominence as a trading center eventually exceeded the urban of Petra and Palmyra. Historical accounts also administer some point out that items from various other continents may additionally have flowed v Mecca. Camel caravans, stated to have an initial been provided by Muhammad’s great-grandfather, were a major part the Mecca’s bustling economy. Partnerships were struck between the vendors in Mecca and also the neighborhood nomadic tribes, who would carry goods—leather, livestock, and metals mined in the neighborhood mountains—to Mecca come be loaded on the caravans and also carried to urban in Syria and Iraq. Historical accounts carry out some indication that goods from various other continents may likewise have flowed through Mecca. Products from Africa and also the Far eastern passed with en course to Syria. The Meccans signed treaties through both the Byzantines and the Bedouins to negotiate safe passages for caravans and also give castle water and also pasture rights. Mecca came to be the center of a loosened confederation of customer tribes, which consisted of those the the Banu Tamim. Other local powers such together the Abyssinian, Ghassan, and Lakhm to be in decline, leave Meccan profession to be the major binding pressure in Arabia in the late sixth century.

The harsh conditions and also terrain that the Arabian peninsula expected a near-constant state that conflict between the local tribes, yet once a year they would certainly declare a truce and also converge top top Mecca in a pilgrimage. Approximately the 7th century, this journey was undertaken by the pagan Arabs to pay homage to their shrine and drink from the Zamzam Well. However, the was additionally the time every year when conflicts would it is in arbitrated, debts would be resolved, and also trading would happen at Meccan fairs. These annual events provided the people a sense of typical identity and also made Mecca vital focus because that the peninsula.


A modern-day caravan crossing the Arabian Peninsula. Together sea trade became much more dangerous, several tribes constructed the Arabian city that Mecca right into a facility of trade to direct much more secure overland caravan routes.

The City of Medina (Yathrib)

Although the city of Medina did not have any type of great difference until the development of Islam, it has constantly held crucial place in trade and farming because that its ar in a fertile an ar of the Hejaz. The city to be able to keep decent quantities of food and also water, and also therefore was an important pit avoid for profession caravans traveling along the Red Sea. This was especially important offered the merchant society of Arabia. In addition to the port of Jidda, Medina and Mecca thrived through years of pilgrimage.

During the pre-Islamic duration up until 622 CE, Medina was recognized as Yathrib, an oasis city. Yathrib was conquered by Jewish people until about 400 CE, as soon as several Arab tribes obtained political power. Medina is commemorated for containing the mosque of Muhammad. Medina is 210 mile (340 km) phibìc of Mecca and around 120 miles (190 km) indigenous the Red Sea coast. It is located in the most fertile component of the Hejaz territory, where the streams the the vicinity converge. An enormous plain extends come the south; in every direction the watch is bounded by hills and mountains.

In 622 CE, Muhammad and also around 70 Meccan Muhajirun believers left Mecca for sanctuary in Yathrib, an occasion that revolutionized the spiritual and political landscape that the city completely. The longstanding enmity in between the Aus and Khazraj tribes was dampened as numerous tribe members, and some regional Jews, taken on Islam. Muhammad, connected to the Khazraj with his great-grandmother, was agreed on as civic leader.

See more: How Can The Two Chromosomes That Make Up A Homologous Pair Differ? ?

The Muslim converts indigenous to Yathrib—whether pagan Arab or Jewish—were referred to as Ansar (“the Patrons” or “the Helpers”). According to Ibn Ishaq, the regional pagan Arab tribes, the Muslim Muhajirun from Mecca, the neighborhood Muslims (Ansar), and the Jews of the area signed an agreement, the constitution of Medina, which committed all parties come mutual collaboration under the leadership of Muhammad. The nature that this paper as taped by Ibn Ishaq and transmitted by Ibn Hisham is the subject of problem among modern Western historians. Plenty of maintain that this “treaty” is possibly a collage of different agreements, oral rather 보다 written, of different dates, and also that that is not clear once they were made. Other scholars, however, both Western and also Muslim, argue that the text of the agreement—whether the was originally a single document or several—is possibly among the earliest Islamic messages we possess.